Delayed Anger After The Affair: What Does It Mean And What Can You Do About It?

By: Katie Lersch: I very commonly hear from wives who are experiencing intense anger long after the affair has been discovered. Many wives are quite frustrated by this and don’t understand why it is happening so long after the fact.

I heard from a wife who said: “for weeks after my husband’s affair, I was very calm. It wasn’t that I wasn’t mad or upset. I was. But those weren’t the emotions that came through. Mostly, I was hurt and sad. I just kept thinking about what might be lost and how one decision might have such a lasting impact on the lives of multiple people. As the days went by, my sadness started to abate just a little and I began to try to find ways to cope. My husband seemed to be relieved that I was mostly focused on recovery and he was happy to go to counseling with me. The problem is that during counseling, I’ve started to experience a lot of anger. But I don’t completely understand this. It’s been months after I found out about the affair and now, all of a sudden, I’m as angry as though it were the first day. My husband doesn’t understand why I’m so angry all of a sudden and frankly, I don’t quite get it either. Why am I suddenly so angry and what does this mean for my recovery?”

Believe it or not, this type of delayed anger is very common. Often, in the very early days of finding about about the affair, many people just go into survival mode. You are just trying to put one foot in front of the other so that you can get through every day. And in order to do this successfully, you can’t dwell on things all that much. So you place your focus on doing what is necessary to move forward. But eventually, this momentum can begin to slow. And when you slow down, you will often begin to start thinking about this specifics of the affair. And this is when the anger begins to spew forth – seemingly out of nowhere.

The truth is, it has likely been bubbling just under the surface for a while, but you were moving so quickly or you stuffed the feelings down because they were just too painful at the time.  But often you can only run for so far or for so fast until you need to slow down and be quiet for a while. And when this happens, you are forced to ask the questions or think the thoughts that can lead to some unpleasant realities which can bring about that delayed anger we have been talking about.

So hopefully, that helps you to understand why you might be experiencing that delayed anger.  Now, let’s talk about what you can do about it.  Many wives are upset about the anger and they worry that they are taking a step backward.  This isn’t necessarily the case.  You need to give yourself permission to experience the feelings as they come.  If you keep forcing them back down or refuse to feel them, then they are just going to keep right on cropping back up.  I found a great deal of comfort and keeping a journal and giving myself permission to write whatever came into my mind.  This helped me to release the feelings without needing to always lash out at my husband.

Speaking of my husband, I learned to be very direct when the feelings would present themselves.  I would tell him that, for whatever reason, I was feeling some anger and I needed a little space until it passed.  Sometimes, the anger presents itself because there is a topic that you have been worrying or thinking about but have not addressed.  If this is the case, it helps greatly to go right ahead and come out with it.  Frankly, I find it better to just go ahead and put it on the table instead of allowing it to hurt you day after day as it continues to present itself.  To me, it’s better to deal with it all at once and get it over with, even though this might be painful at the time.

Finally, this delayed anger doesn’t mean that you are regressing.  It usually means that an affair is a lot to deal with all at once, so you sometimes find feelings are thoughts presenting themselves a little bit at a time so that you are not overwhelmed.   And, once you are no longer in survival mode, then it’s just natural for your thoughts to come forward.  Take them as they come, release them, and then deal with them as needed.  Usually, if you face them head on, they will wane over time and no longer be so overwhelming.

I will admit that my anger was severe when it finally did come.  And, at least at first, I did not deal with it very well.  Over time, I learned to just be honest about it and to face it.  As I acknowledged it, then it lost its power over me and this greatly helped in my recovery.  If it helps, you can read my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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